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One of Saturn's smallest moons has a secret ocean

·1 min

Astronomers have found evidence suggesting the existence of a global ocean beneath the icy surface of one of Saturn’s moons, Mimas. This discovery strengthens the search for habitable worlds in outer space by providing insight into potential sources of water. Previous studies portrayed Mimas solely as a large ice chunk, but data collected by NASA’s Cassini mission between 2004 and 2017 revealed significant changes in the moon’s rotation and orbital motion. Scientists believe that these observations indicate the presence of an internal ocean, making Mimas similar to other moons with subsurface oceans like Enceladus and Europa. The estimated age of Mimas’ ocean is between 5 to 15 million years, relatively young in astronomical terms. The discovery of Mimas’ global ocean suggests that liquid water could be found in various moons within our solar system, expanding the prospects of finding life beyond Earth. Future missions, such as the European Space Agency’s Juice and NASA’s Europa Clipper and Dragonfly spacecraft, will further investigate the habitability of Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s moon Titan. This recent finding could revolutionize the understanding of icy moons throughout the solar system and their potential for supporting life.